Boston is expected to non-tender reliever Hideki Okajima before tonight’s deadline, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
Okajima proved to be an excellent investment for the Red Sox, who signed him out of Japan in November of 2006 for just $2.5 million. He quickly emerged as one of the league’s top setup men, going 12-4 with a 2.72 ERA and 176/62 K/BB ratio in 192 innings from 2007-2009.
He struggled mightily for most of this year and entered August with a 5.73 ERA, but allowed just two runs in his final 16 appearances to finish with a respectable 4.50 mark in 46 innings overall.
Okajima also managed to turn the Boston media completely against him by often refusing to speak to them following poor outings. Along those lines, this morning Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe–who has been one of Okajima’s harshest critics, to say the least–called his rumored non-tendering “addition by subtraction.”
He still looks capable of being a solid setup man, but getting out of Boston is probably best for Okajima at this point and it’s tough to blame the Red Sox for cutting bait rather than paying him approximately $3.5 million in 2011.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.